Summer Test Yields Mixed Results for Fox

In new show tryouts, stations around the country embrace Dish Nation more than Father Albert

The Fox TV station are concurrently testing two new syndicated shows: Dish Nation and Father Albert. As for the results—well, there’s good news and then there’s not-so-good news.

The stations will likely go forward with Dish Nation, an entertainment/talk hybrid in which morning drive-time radio DJs chat about the day’s news and pop culture.

Dish Nation gives voice to what everyone around the country is thinking,” says Stephen Brown, senior VP of programming and development for Twentieth Television, who gets to work at 2 a.m. each day to start planning the show. “If you look at the new census numbers, we are a true melting pot. We are completely changed from what we were 20 years ago, and our programming has to reflect that.”

Dish Nation
, which was pitched to Twentieth by promo packager Stu Weiss of Studio City, features Atlanta DJ Rickey Smiley, Detroit’s Blaine and Allyson, Los Angeles’ Fellie Fel and Krystal Bee and New York’s Scott and Todd riffing on the day’s hot topics. It is built around the hosts in their radio studios, but most of the talking for TV happens when the DJs are off radio air.

“This is a fresh new take on this pop-culture newsmagazine,” says Brown. “TMZ broke the mold three or four years ago. To be honest, when TMZ first launched, it wasn’t a success. It finally found its success the following May. We are very encouraged by having launched this new brand and having folks respond.”

After a week on the air, Dish Nation is averaging a 0.9 rating/ 2 share across seven Fox markets. The show’s best performance is in Detroit, where it’s averaging a 2.2/6 at midnight on WJBK, down 27% from its lead-in and down 12% from its year-ago time period average. Dish Nation is least watched in Los Angeles, where it’s averaging a 0.5/1 at 6:30 p.m. on KTTV. That’s down 58% from the show’s lead-in and off 17% from year-ago time-period performance, when another test, Craig Kilborn’s The Kilborn File, aired.

Should the Fox stations decide to pick Dish Nation up, it will likely be paired with TMZ, Warner Bros.’ edgy entertainment mag, in many markets.

Meanwhile, Debmar-Mercury’s Father Albert, which began its five-week test run on July 11, is unlikely to go forward. Stations in three markets—New York, Minneapolis and Phoenix— pulled the show from their schedules after only three weeks. Stations in the other three Fox markets—Los Angeles, Dallas and Tampa—have been reasonably happy with the show and are expected to play out the 20 episodes that Debmar-Mercury produced.

Father Albert, starring Miami-based Episcopalian priest Father Alberto Cutie, is averaging a 0.7/2 in its six Fox markets.

The show’s best performance is in Dallas, where it’s averaging a 1.0/3 on KDFW at 1 p.m., down 33% from its lead-in but up 11% from what Warner Bros.’ cancelled Judge Jeanine Pirro was doing in the time slot last year. The show’s worst performance is in Minneapolis, where it’s averaging a 0.3/1 on KMSP, down 50% from its lead-in and down 57% from its year-ago time-period average.

All that said, executives at both Fox and Debmar-Mercury say this is why they keep testing shows: It’s better to know that a show’s going to fail after just three weeks on the air than after wasting a year on it.

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